Córdoba 

Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

Today’s day trip is a visit to Córdoba, a city a little over an hour from where I staying. Córdoba is famous for La Mezquita – a mosque/cathedral, as well as its beautiful garden patios. The city is rich in Muslim and roman history.

Ten years ago I tried to visit Córdoba as a day trip from Sevilla. I had planned that trip with lots of unreasonable expectations; it is hard enough to keep yourself to a timeline and even harder if you have another person traveling with you. We couldn’t make the day trip to Córdoba happen. It has always been in the back of my mind that I needed to return. Therefore I am here today doing that day trip, finally.

The train ride to Córdoba is about an hour long from Granada. I book the 7:30 am train and knowing that sometimes trips sell out I book my return trip as well. The afternoon train times are pricey so I decide to take the 8:10 PM in the evening and decide I’ll just enjoy the extra time in the city. This is a poor decision on my part for reasons I will explain shortly.

Today’s itinerary contains a number of planning failures. Today is a Monday and I failed doing the appropriate research for visiting on a Monday. I correctly booked in advance my visit to La Mezquita (Catedral de Córdoba) since those tickets are limited. However I failed to realize that a great number of places of interest are actually closed on Mondays. This is amateur error on my part – I am typically good at picking up these nuances. Things being generally closed combined with face-melting heat make this day trip an interesting visit (my analogy for today’s weather is that it feels similar to what you see in the Raiders of the Lost Arc when the nazi’s, rightly so, have their faces melted).

Upon my arrival I start from the train station and wander the quiet streets of Córdoba with the destination of La Mezquita de Córdoba .

I enter the courtyard and patiently wait for the opening of La Mezquita which also happens to be my scheduled reservation time. While waiting I hear the bells chime from the Bell Tower.

Finally its time to line up and enter.

The structure I am entering was started as a Visigoth basilica in the 6th century and then turned into a mosque and then a cathedral. In its history it has expanded many times by different rulers. The diagrams and audio tour talks about each expansion. La Mezquita another good example of mixing lots of different styles into one building.

I notice another painting of my now favorite giant from the bible, Saint Christopher.

The mezquita is quite large but I have finally reached the end of my visit. I’ve worked up an appetite so I stop for a quick snack.

Manolas Empanadas

After my snack I hit my first road block: the Museo Taurino de Córdoba is closed on Mondays. However behind the museum and down the alley is a nice little artist alcove. It is here I finally get to see one of the patios that the city is famous for.

Museo Taurino de Córdoba

I almost find myself buying some earings by an artesian here but unable to decide on a pair I walk away empty handed.

Nearby I view Estatua de Maimónides, a bronze sculpture of the philosopher, theologian & doctor, Cordovan Ben Maimónides.

I walk on to discover the La Sinagaga is another place closed today. I am not averaging well for my sightseeing checklist so far.

Bodega Guzmán is nearby. I stop here and order boquerones and a glass of a local wine Montilla-Moriles. The wine is more of a sherry. The place seems authentic. I am glad I stop here to escape the heat.

I can’t stay here all day and drink so I venture back out. I walk inside the city walls as well as along the outside. I notice the residences along the walls.

Eventually it seems like a good time for lunch. I end up at Taberna Rafaé based on a recommendation I viewed online. I order an traditional oxtail dish to get a feel of the regional cuisine. The stew has very good flavor and reminds of a type of boeuf bourguignonne.

There is more wandering after lunch, for whatever is actually open, which is not much. Instead I eye buildings, statues and gardens.

Another popular place to visit in town is the palace Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos but of course it is closed today as well, though I read I didn’t miss much here except maybe the gardens.

I walk by the Puente Romano de Córdoba the historic picturesque bridge in town. It is a 1st century Roman bridge.

Its been hot all day but its about now when it becomes face melting hot (100+ degrees farenheit). I find a shaded bench in a park and try to nap and cool down but the best I do is do some reading on my phone. I don’t last long here though because I get bored. I want to head back to Granada but the earlier train times are sold out or too expensive.

My visit to Cordoba would have been enhanced with viewing some of the patios the city is famous for. Unfortunately I miss the festival of patios by a month or two. There are still some patios that can be viewed for an admission price but there are limited hours for the touring and I have missed the window for this today. Today is really poorly planned. I do sneak a look at patios through gates inside a quiet residential area. The streets are empty. Only crazy tourists like me are outside in this heat.

When I return to the main tourist area all the day trippers are gone. At least I have a mostly solo visit to the beautiful Calleja de las Flores.

I’ve given up sightseeing and start looking for a place with air conditioning or something similar. I find a courtyard bar with shade and misting fans. It is not busy and I end up getting a free glass of wine. I am loving it here because I rarely get anything offered to me for free.

Eventually the courtyard bar completely clears out and so do I (I don’t want to be the only customer). My next destination is a market I remember this morning when I was walking from the train station. The major tourist areas are too quiet and hot for my taste and the market is at least closer to the train station. The market, Mercado Victoria, is beautiful indoors. Not many vendors are open because it is early but I get a very delicious Negroni cocktail while I relax in the air conditioning. It seems like others here have the same plan as I.

It is finally time for me to walk over to the train station to take my train back to Granada.

When I arrive back in Granada it is late so restaurants are closing along my walk back to the train station. Luckily the street that contains my hotel has some late night eateries. I stop at Restaurante Tetería Palmira which is a Syrian/Lebanese/Moroccan restaurant. I order the shish kabob platter and it hits the spot after a long hot day of sightseeing.

It is late but the streets are still alive nearby. I’ve had a long day so I call it a night.

Tomorrow I have a scheduled reservation for the Alhambra. I’m anticipating that will take up much of the day. Good night.

Moving on to Granada

Cathedral de Granada

It is very early. As I walk from my hotel to the train station this morning there are young people still coming back from the clubs, I didn’t even know there were clubs in Ronda.

It’s funny to see people coming back from the clubs when I am out catching a morning train. Seems like a lifetime ago but I used to be a person coming back from a club as the sun rises.

A thing I notice is that there are no cafe’s open for me to get a cup of coffee. My room in Ronda is the only room I stay in this trip that doesn’t have a coffee pot for me to at least make instant coffee. I can go without food but not coffee. I feel like I am going to die (being a little dramatic here). I didn’t plan this morning well at all. Fortunately the restaurant at the train station opens just in time for me to get a café con leche to go a few minutes before my train arrives.

For my journey I have to switch trains in Antequera once more; this time there is no drama. I arrive in Granada around 10:30 am but I am still many hours from check in to my hotel. I have saved instructions for taking the bus to my hotel but since I have so much time I decide to walk to get a feel for the area, it is only a 20 minute walk and the weather is not too unbearably hot, yet.

I head to my hotel and as I suspect I am way too early for my room. Instead of just dropping my bag I decide this is a great time to clean my clothes, this later proves to be a great idea because I quickly sweat through everything the next couple days. I have a laundromat mapped out down the street but I need detergent. It is challenging finding a store that carries detergent and when I do it is a very large bottle. I don’t like carrying extra weight when I travel so the plan is to just leave it for the next consumer at the laundromat. When I arrive to the laundromat I notice that none of the washers need detergent added since they all automatically provide their own. I find this to be common in Spain during the rest of my travels. I leave the detergent bottle there anyway. There is some drama with another customer and a dryer not working well. I try to chat with him in Spanish the best I can. Luckily I have my eye on one of the smaller dryers anyway.

By the time my laundry is cleaned and repacked into my backpack my room is ready at Hotel Posada del Toro. The hotel is located in a 19th century building and has lots of interesting architectural details. My room is a good size and has working air conditioning! I also have a view of the courtyard but I keep my window mostly closed due to privacy. I can see leaving this window open during cooler months though.

I drop my things and head out. The hotel is located in the old town of Granada. I eye many middle eastern restaurants nearby and I start planning which ones I want to visit later. There are also many shops selling different clothing and other things tourists may want. I am not much for shopping but I eye the displays.

I end up near the cathedral. There is a street performer break dancing so I stop to watch the performance.

I enter into the nearby Iglesia Parroquial del Sagrario. It is free and a retreat from the sun.

Around the corner is the Capilla Real de Granada or Royal Chapel of Granada. This is where some past royals are entombed, including Ferdinand & Isabella. I tour inside but they don’t allow photos.

I finally find the entrance to the Catedral de Granada and spend some time touring inside.

It is getting late and I don’t want to miss eating lunch due to siesta so I settle at an outdoor cafe that seems to be a local chain, Los Manueles Restaurante (Catedral). I order the very rich and filling noodles with prawns and squid ink sauce. It is good and I ask myself why I rarely order pasta dishes anymore. The meal gives me the energy to wander some more.

I discover the Plaza De Bib Rambla. There are a number of appetizing looking cafes here. I make a mental note to return at a later time.

I do some window shopping and wandering down the different alleys.

I’ve had a large late lunch so I’m not particularly hungry for the evening. I find a wine and cheese store where I purchase a bottle of local wine and an assortment of Spanish cheeses. I have a refrigerator to keep it all so I can snack on this the next few days. It is hot so return to my room and go to bed early. Tomorrow I have an appointment to visit the alcazar in Córdoba.